In the District
Greetings from the District Superintendent
Dr. Bob Bushong
Many of you have seen articles on social media and in the secular press about a document called "Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation." This is a plan to help delegates to the United Methodist Church General Conference to be held in May in Minneapolis in the decision making process about next steps for our denomination.
Not all that you have read and heard is accurate, and may be the cause of some misunderstandings. That’s why I’m using my column this month to share with you how Bishop Carter introduces and explains this proposal:
Grace and Peace,
East Central District
Bishop Carter participates in Global Mediation and interprets this for the Florida Conference
Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Florida Conference,
Grace and Peace to you, in the name and spirit of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, in these first days of a new year.
I write to commend to you the fruit of a mediation process undertaken by sixteen United Methodists, entitled “A Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation.” The eight-page document, linked here, represents work done by a group of United Methodists from across the world who represent many (not all) of the important streams of our church. This work was done in collaboration with Mr. Kenneth Feinberg, noted mediator known for his work with the September 11 Victim’s Compensation Fund, the Virginia Tech and Boston Marathon victims, and the BP Deepwater Horizon Disaster. Mr. Feinberg, who is not a United Methodist, offered his professional guidance to us pro bono.
The Protocol is offered in service to the delegates who will gather four short months from now in Minneapolis for the 2020 General Conference. It is not perfect--no mediation is--but it gives a great deal to each of these different streams, more than I could have imagined at the beginning. All of this has been done—and the word I hear from many is that it is something of a miracle—without harming these persons. I attribute this to the work of the Holy Spirit.
The protocol was unanimously affirmed and signed by the sixteen participants.
Key features of the mediation protocol and proposed legislation that will follow are:
• The ongoing existence of The United Methodist Church
• A gracious way of departure for a traditionalist conservative Methodist Church, with a financial settlement.
• The creation of four regional conferences—Africa, U.S., Europe, Philippines—each with its own ability to adapt the Book of Discipline.
• The removal of restrictive language related to LGBTQ identity and practice in the U.S. post-separation United Methodist Church immediately following the May General Conference.
• Holding in abeyance any administrative or judicial processes regarding restrictions in the Book of Discipline related to LGBTQ persons, as of January 1, 2020.
• Creation of a fund to strengthen the Black Church and ministries with and among marginalized persons.
• No annual conference or local church is required to vote on departure from the United Methodist Church.
• No one is asked to leave or separate from the church.
• Annual Conferences and local churches may vote to depart from The United Methodist Church with their property in order to participate in another Methodist expression.
• Wespath will offer a continuity of service across the various Methodist expressions.
Note: This brief summary is not intended to be a substitute for the actual reading of the protocol. It is simply to encourage United Methodists to develop an understanding of the contents of the protocol. I encourage you to view the following documents:
• A Press Release
• The Signed Protocol
• Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Much of the effect of this protocol will be how we receive it and how we turn toward each other. It is not about winners or losers, but about how God's promise of grace and reconciliation relates to our structures, convictions, and hopes. It is significant, and at the same time, it is one step in a journey.
For me, this mediation work is in the fulfillment of my consecration vows as a bishop, to seek the unity of the church. And for me, it is in continuity with the work of the Commission on a Way Forward.
• No one has to vote to leave the church.
• No one is being asked to leave the church.
• And The United Methodist Church, under the cross and flame, will continue to be in ministry across the world.
We were told in the mediation process that if we did not write the narrative, it would be written for us. A culture of trials related to LGBTQ persons in the church becomes the dominant narrative. By holding these administrative and judicial processes in abeyance until the resolution of these matters, we are able to devote our energies to working and walking together to finding reconciliation and grace through structural separation.
I give thanks for those who participated in the mediation and particularly to Mr. Kenneth Feinberg, who led us in this process. I give thanks for all of the people of the Florida Conference, and believe this mediation does no harm to anyone of them. I also place great trust in our delegation to the 2020 General Conference. They are authorized to help our church to move forward into a new season of mission and flourishing.
In the interim, we have much work to do in service to our Lord, in the strengthening of our local churches and ministries. We have an important question to answer: “What kind of annual conference will we be?” And we are in connection with each other, for a larger purpose: “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
This will continue to be my focus, and I ask you to join me.
The Peace of the Lord,
Bishop, Florida Conference, The United Methodist Church
East Central District Staff Changes
Our Part-time Administrative Assistant, Betty Sims has elected to pursue new opportunities. Her last day with the East Central District was December 19, 2019. Betty started with us in April 2016. Bob & I are grateful to her for her contribution these past few years. She will be missed!
I am in the office Monday - Thursday 8:30am - 4:00pm and can be reached at 407-636-9240 x4. I work remotely on Fridays and can be reached via email at email@example.com.
I'm looking forward to working with you in 2020!
East Central District
A Message from Kim & Melanie Lee, District Lay Leaders
Melanie & Kim Lee
A New Year to Commit to God’s Word and Purpose
Every new year, Kim and I spend time assessing the past year and planning how to make the new one better and more purposeful. We list our accomplishments as a family: tasks, activities, dreams we have fulfilled during the past 12 months. Many of them had been on a to-do list for us, such as rescreening the pool area, but some, like climbing Machu Pichu, had been on our dream list.
This year, we are going to strive to simplify our lives by getting rid of clutter, consuming less (in food and products), and trimming activities, obligations, and relationships that don’t align with our personal missions. As a couple, we are planning to spend less time in front of a screen and more time in nature. (I’m sure many of you share these resolutions!) We each have our own goals for the year too. Always, at the top of the list we both want to pray more, read our Bibles more, and listen for God’s whisperings in our ear.
This year, in order to structure my Bible reading, I plan to revisit a goal I fulfilled in 2014. Two years before, in 2012, an amazing Methodist minister, biblical scholar, and spiritual leader, Charles Stopford, passed away. I spent many hours in classes Charles led and in discussions with him. He helped me explore and challenge my faith in ways that helped me grow into the person I am today. His wisdom still leads me in my faith journey. In 2009, Charles took our congregation on a daily journey through the New Testament, including his own interpretations of the passages. In 2014, I made a commitment to post his daily devotions on a blog so that more people could share in Charles’ wise and wonderful writings on scripture. This year, I plan to reread the posts and spend time in prayer, asking God to lead me. I plan to say daily, “Here I am, Lord.”
Join me if you will! https://tinyurl.com/Year-through-New-Testament
Click HERE to read more about Charles Stopford.
Loving the Laity,
Melanie & Kim Lee
UM Council of Older Adult Ministries
The UM Council of Older Adult Ministries in partnership with Discipleship Ministries is hosting a series of webinars focusing on Dementia and the Church. The series begins on Jan. 17 and will run one per month through April. Each session will feature an individual with an expertise in one area of dementia and how the church can get involved. The webinars are designed to be part lecture and part interactive discussion and Q&A. All one needs to participate, is a computer and Internet access. There is no cost for these webinars. Anyone is welcome to participate.
The Annual East Central District Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) Training Event will provide you with the effective tools needed in your responsibilities. Dr. Bob Bushong our District Superintendent will facilitate.
Cokesbury offers guidelines for leading your congregation. Click HERE to see the various committee specific resources.
Pastors, SPRC Chairs and Committee members, Lay Leaders, and Lay Members to Annual Conference are encouraged to attend.
Click HERE to register.
Annual Called to Serve
February 22, 2020 - First UMC, Oviedo
Registration is OPEN!!
Make plans now to attend the Annual ECD Called to Serve event. This day is for everyone to come together to worship, learn and grow together. Rev. Annette Stiles Williams, Senior Pastor at Suntree UMC and previous East Central District Superintendent will be our Keynote Speaker!
There are a wide range of workshops being offered. We hope you will plan on attending and will bring others in your church and ministry setting.
- Children's Ministry
- Youth Ministry
- Young Adult Ministry
- Missional Engagement
- Connecting with the Latino/a Population
- Cuba/Florida Initiative
- Celebrate Recovery
- Fresh Expressions
- Nuevas Expresiones de la Iglesia en Su Contexto - Fresh Expressions - Workshop will be in Spanish
- Making Disciples
- Child Evangelism Fellowship
- Impacting your Community
- Holy Land
- Disaster Response
- Being a Welcoming Church
- Social Media
- Florida United Methodist Children's Home
- Lay Leader Training
- Staff Parish Relations Committee
- Finance Training
- Child Youth Protection Training
- Trustee Training
Click HERE to view the workshops and register online. Click HERE to print the workshop listings.
Statistics due February 7, 2020
Please visit the Year-End Statistics Instructions website as you begin preparations for reporting your church's end of year statistics. You will find everything you need for reporting. Please read all instructions, before you begin!
- Church Guide for EOY and EZRA Reporting (Login Instructions & Passwords)
- Church Table Directions (help text)
- New Church Development and Year End Statistical Reporting
Step by Step Overview of the Year-End Reporting Process
The information you share gives the GCFA and the conference an opportunity to see how the churches have prospered in the last year.
Online reporting has begun and is due by February 7, 2020. Thank you for your help in telling our churches' stories through statistics.
Church and Pastor Annual Profiles
Due by January 31, 2020
Church Profile – reviewed and updated annually.
These forms are to be reviewed and updated annually by all church SPR Committees and all clergy in the Florida Conference. All church SPR Committees must update online annually and may begin now. The Church Profile deadline requires it be completed online no later than one week prior to the pastor’s DS consultation if they are having one.
Pastor Profile – reviewed and updated annually.
All pastors must update online annually and may begin now. The Pastor Profile deadline requires it to be completed online no later than one week prior to the DS consultation. Though you may not anticipate a move, it is important that both the Pastor Profile and Church Profile be current and up to date at the first appointment-making session of the Cabinet. The reports should be an honest reflection of the pastoral ministry and the profile of the church.
Click HERE for the detailed instructions for accessing both the Church and Pastor Profiles. Follow the step by step instructions to access the appropriate profile. The final date to update Profiles is January 31, 2020.
Apportionments and End of Year Payments
Apportionment payments for 2019 must be received in the lockbox at Regions Bank or paid on line by Friday, January 10, 2020. This is not a postmarked by date, but is the day by which monies must be received in the Conference or our bank lockbox to be included in 2019 apportionments receipts. Any payments received after that date will be applied to 2020 apportionments. Any payments received between January 1 and January 10 must be clearly marked as to which year they are to be applied.
All apportionment payments should be accompanied by a completed Remittance Report. Click HERE for a Remittance Report. Click HERE to pay online.
Any amounts due for Ministry Protection and Health and Benefits at the end of the year will continue to show as outstanding on your statement in 2020. To ensure proper processing of these payments and avoid errors, payments should contain the following information on the check, check stub or statement:
- Church Name
- GCFA Number
- Invoice Number (include all letters and any 0's)
- Allocation amounts for each invoice
When mailing payments to Regions take note of the billing address for each of these types of payments. The last 4 numbers after the zip code are different for each and very important to include to ensure your payment is processed properly.
To be considered a 100% connectional church in the Florida Annual Conference Journal, 100% of 2019 apportionments must be received by January 10, 2020, and all outstanding Ministry Protection and Health and Benefits obligations must have been received by December 31, 2019.
Government Payroll Changes for 2020
Effective January 1, the new Florida Minimum Wage will be $8.56 per hour. Be sure to increase any employee making below this amount for the first paycheck dated in January, 2020.
Effective January 1, the new guidelines for salary exempt status goes into effect. The new minimum salary for an exempt employee is $35,568 ($684 per week). You have two options regarding this change:
- Option 1. The employee can remain at their current salary and be reclassified as a non-exempt employee, at which time, the employee will have to track their hours and be paid overtime for any hours worked over 40 hours in any week. We recommend a timecard or timesheet be turned in weekly and retain on file.
- Option 2. Increase the employee’s salary to the new exempt minimum of $684 per week.
- Clergy Exemption – Clergy are exempt from the salary requirement; HOWEVER, Lay Supply Pastors ARE NOT covered by the exemption and must follow the new guidelines for salary exempt status.
Effective the first day of your first payroll run of 2020 all new hires MUST complete the new 2020 W-4. Click HERE for the NEW W-4.
Current employees do not need to complete the new W-4 unless they want to. It is supposed to allow for a more accurate tax withholding. Any employee that only completes Sections 1 and 5 (both mandatory) will be treated as a single filer with the highest tax rate with no adjustments.
Click HERE for FAQ’s from the IRS to help answer your questions regarding how to properly complete the new W-4.
Tax Withholding Estimator
The IRS suggests employee should take the time to use the Tax Withholding Estimator to determine if they need to make any adjustments to their tax withholding for 2020. They may also want to consult their tax professional.
Sign up now and plan to attend the Spring 2020 LSM Weekend!!
Select one of the six courses offered. All classes require a total of 10 hours attendance. Friday 5:00pm-8:30pm and Saturday 8:00am - 4:00pm. The cost is $45 which covers material and food. Basic LSM is a pre-requisite to the Advanced Courses. Once the Basic and Advanced Courses are completed, you will be a Certified Lay Servant. NOTE: Lay Servant certification expires after three years.
Basic LSM (English) with Rev. Jeanine Clontz, Senior Pastor, Flagler Beach UMC
Basic LSM (Spanish) with Wilkins Rodriguez & Israel Suarez, Certified Lay Servants
Discover Your Servant Profile (English) ♦ This spiritual Gifts, Personal Style and Ministry Passion Assessment course is designed to get the right people, in the right places, for the right reasons, at the right time in our local churches to help maximize their kingdom-building and serving potential. Led by Jim Boesch, Co-Director of ECD Lay Servant Ministries
Shaping the Prayers of the People: The Art of Intercession (English) ♦ At once inspirational and practical, this book empowers and equips laypeople and clergy alike to offer heartfelt, informed, and appropriate prayers on behalf of the people of God. As Samuel Wells and Abigail Kocher say, "Interceding in public worship is a duty. This book is intended to make it a joy." Led by Rev. Kate Ling
Desubriendo y Desplegando Nuestros Dones Espirituales (Spanish) ♦ Para utilizar personalmente o en grupos pequenos encuentra el lugar que te corresponde dentro del cuerpo de Cristo. Cuando conozcas y uses tus dones espirtuales, podras participar en el ministerio que Dios creo para ti personalmente. Sera un ministerio lleno de fruto y satisfaccion. Led by Revs. Carmen & Leo Rodgriguez
Conflict Resolution First-Responders (English) ♦ The church needs first responders - people who can help snuff out small flames of conflict before they have a chance to cause harm. This class will equip Lay Servants to intervene and help others through the conflict. Completion of the previous advanced class, Peace-making: Resolving Everyday conflict is helpful but not required. Led by Lennie Burke & Mike Mailman, Certified Lay Servants.
Click HERE for the brochure to print and mail in. Click HERE to register and pay online.
Apply Now for UMC FCU Scholarships for College Bound Students
The Florida United Methodist Connectional FCU is once again offering scholarships to 17-35 year-old college-bound students in our connection. Four winning applicants, one from each of our four conferences - Florida, North Georgia, South Georgia, & Alabama-West Florida - will each receive a $1,000 scholarship. Click HERE for complete rules and full essay submission criteria. Click HERE for the application with all the details. Deadline for submission is April 30, 2020.
Questions? Call 866-687-2136.
Conference Communicator Position
The Florida Annual Conference is seeking a talented communications professional to lead the development and implementation of effective communication strategies that will raise the visibility of the annual conference in order to further its mission.
The selected candidate will be a creative thinker who understands the needs of the organization and can collaboratively design solutions to achieve objectives. Successful applicants must also demonstrate an ability to develop, manage and carry out multiple communication strategies across various departments concurrently.
Application deadline is January 10, 2020. Click HERE for details.
Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF)
Every Child, Every Nation, Every Day
For over 80 years God has been using Child Evangelism Fellowship® to bring the love of Jesus Christ to children around the world. The Word of God puts a high priority on children. They are near to God’s heart and we believe that He is uniquely concerned about their spiritual welfare. Without the foundation of a relationship with God and training in Biblical principles for life they are unequipped to face what life will throw at them.
Child Evangelism Fellowship, also known as CEF®, is a Bible-centered, worldwide organization composed of born-again believers whose purpose is to evangelize boys and girls with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and to establish (disciple) them in the local church for Christian living. CEF was founded by Jesse Irvin Overholtzer in 1937. The ministry has grown into the largest evangelistic outreach to children in the world. CEF is currently ministering in countries around the world and in every state in the U.S.
God has given His people a clear commission—to reach every creature with the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our special mission in CEF is to evangelize every child. In the last ministry year our workers worldwide reached over 25.4 million children! As children grow in their relationship with the Lord through meditating on His Word, they develop godly character, which produces much fruit to the glory of God, including spreading the Gospel to their peers.
God has given CEF a number of unique ministries which have proven to be effective tools in our effort to evangelize and disciple children. Good News Club®, a weekly club during the school year, is more popular than ever following the Supreme Court victory allowing Good News Club to take place in public schools across America. Our summer 5-Day Club® outreach takes place over the course of a five-day period, offering a unique opportunity for children to interact with teenagers who receive training in the Christian Youth In Action™ program.
Perhaps God is leading you to become more involved in the lives of children. CEF is here to come along side individuals and churches to train, equip and encourage for His kingdom’s sake. Interested in more information? Please check out our state website at CEFFlorida.com or connect with us at the East Central District Conference in February.
SAVE the DATE!
Day on Campus ♦ Florida United Methodist Children's Home ♦ March 28, 2020
Spring Clergy Meeting ♦ Asbury UMC ♦ April 16, 2020
Fall Clergy Meeting ♦ Asbury UMC ♦ August 13, 2020
Missional Vital Signs
Remember to submit your Missional Vital Signs (MVS) each month no later than the 10th of each month. Click HERE for explanation and to enter your MVS.
Around the Conference and Beyond
Share your gifts and talents by serving on a Florida Conference team
As we approach the upcoming start of the Quadrennium, we have various Conference ministry teams, agencies and task forces that could use passionate, committed individuals who have a desire to engage in ministry at the Conference level. We are seeking those volunteers to share their spiritual gifts and skills.
If you have a calling to serve, a spiritual gift, or an area of expertise which you are open to sharing in this way, your gifts and graces are needed. Please let us know by clicking HERE and completing the appropriate Application to Serve link below (by District). Additional information can also be found at this link.
The Conference Committee on Nominations and Leadership will review all Applications to Serve, within the coming months, and work through the discernment process as outlined in the Florida Annual Conference Standing Rules Paragraph 302. All who complete and application to serve will be notified of the outcome.
Your Application to Serve is needed not later than 1/10/2020.
Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org .
Don’t forget, if you are being led to apply to be the Florida Conference Lay Leader, Click HERE for more information! Deadline for the Conference Lay Leader application is 1/15/2020.
General Conference 2020
Minneapolis, Minnesota - May 5 - 15
What is the General Conference of the UMC?
Florida Delegation General Conference 2020
Volunteers needed for General Conference 2020
General Conference 2020 Website
Comparison of Proposals to General Conference 2020
Licensing School 2020
May 11 - 22, 2020
Licensing School 2020 will be held at Florida Southern College May 11 through May 22, 2020. Click HERE for the link with the requirements for licensing school, the tentative schedule and the revised fillable application.
Please note the cost has changed due to the fact that we have been losing money on this for some time now. It will be $900 per person and $700 for those who are Certified Candidate in the Florida Conference. There is no additional paperwork needed for the $200 reduction in costs. Compared to other schools we are charging significantly less.